Fittler bemoans Sims' Origin brain snap
Ben Hunt of the Maroons is tackled without the ball by Tariq Sims of the Blues during Game 3 of the 2018 State of Origin series between the NSW Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Tariq Sims has been putting big shots on all year, but this is one he'd probably take back.
With NSW out on their feet but up on the scoreboard deep into the second half of State of Origin III, Sims was hit in a strong tackle by Queensland utility Ben Hunt.
And the Blues debutant took exception to the extra attention he was getting from his St George Illawarra teammate, driving Hunt into the turf himself after playing the ball.
The referee had no choice but to penalise Sims, and minutes later Maroons captain Billy Slater set up Valentine Holmes' second try of the night to level the scores.
It was arguably the turning point of the match.
NSW coach Brad Fittler thought Hunt had pulled Sims into him, but accepted that the Dragons enforcer shouldn't have reacted the way he did.
"When I watched it, Ben Hunt pulled him, so he shouldn't have been touching him in the first place," Fittler said.
"Tariq was silly enough to go through with it. We'll cop that on the chin."
Fittler instead included the incident as one of several 50-50 calls that went the Maroons' way for most of the night, including the first-half sin-binning of five-eighth James Maloney.
They were awarded the first five penalties of the match in a count that finished 8-3.
"We didn't win any 50-50s at all," Fittler said.
"But to win 3-0, you've got to do some pretty special things. And that was to overcome a lot of adversity and we lacked a bit there under pressure, a few discipline areas let us down."
Despite failing to complete the whitewash, the rookie coach was still proud of the way his team remained in the contest with just 30 per cent possession in the first half.
At one stage, their tackle count almost doubled the Maroons' 103.
"They were pretty brave considering a lot went against them. It was made pretty tough for them from the way Queensland played," he said.
"Whether it was decisions, or things just didn't really go our way ... to hang in there like they did, we had a crack at them at the death, which would've been a lovely finish.
"But it wasn't to be, really proud of them."
© AAP 2018